“Grills suck for burgers,” David Chang recently said on his eponymous podcast. “We have assumed as a culture that in summer, we eat a burger and it’s grilled.” The Momofuku founder explained that barbecuing burgers doesn’t allow enough time to impart a smoky flavor and turns the meat into “carbonized crap,” but people keep performing the inferior culinary method because they like the socializing that comes from the activity.
“A backyard burger is an experience that you try to convince yourself is better than it actually is,” Chang said. “It’s the nostalgia, it’s the smells, it’s your friends. But if you actually take it out of the context, it’s not that good.”
“I actually think the grill is a horrible thing for the burger… I think this viewpoint could get me in trouble,” he said. Chang added that the link between burgers and grills “is a marketing lie.”
Chang explained that the best way to cook your burgers is in a griddle because “the success rate of the griddle is better than the grill, and also there’s no clean up, you have nothing to worry about.” Turning away from burgers, he also did note that grilling corn was “clearly the only champion” and that he couldn’t “think of anything else” that makes corn taste quite as good.
Chang is no stranger to challenging traditions and orthodoxies. In his Netflix show Ugly Delicious, he sought out sacred cows to slaughter. And his new take on grilling isn’t even his first culinary criticism about beef. In his burger manifesto, published by his influential, now-defunct food magazine Lucky Peach, he slammed Wagyu beef burgers. Chang wrote that it was “the dumbest burger in the world” to use the beef, according to The Independent. “It’s like 70 percent fat content—it’s disgusting. Would you eat a ground bacon burger? That’s what you’re doing with a Wagyu burger.”